Last year we trekked over to Durfur, Oregon to participate in our first organized gravel event, Cycle Oregon Gravel.
Essentially a Gran Fondo style event, Cycle Oregon gravel is a two day, fully supported ride winding over hills and well-groomed gravel roads (and a bit of pavement) featuring scenic countryside backroads.
What is a Gran Fondo?
For those unfamiliar with the concept of the Gran Fondo, a Grand Fond is defined as a type of long-distance road cycling ride. With a format similar to marathons, most riders participate against the clock or simply attend for the experience of the “big ride” and large meal/ celebration that follows.
The best part of attending an organized gravel grinding event like Cycle Oregon Gravel is getting to simply ride and enjoy the company of your fellow riders. The route planning has been done, with the route both well marked but maps also supplied. At the midway point organizers provide drinks and snacks to keep riders fueled up for the return trip to base camp.
We’ve attended a number of road cycling events in the last few years, and the social, group aspect of the ride is what draws us to them the most, as well as the personal fitness challenge. My partner for the ride has especially taken to road cycling since we’ve moved back to Portland, enjoying the camaraderie, as well as health and fitness focus. The downside of road cycling is there are some scary drivers out there, and it only takes a few resentful drivers threatening ones life to think about a change of environment — gravel rides like this are a fantastic alternative, with curated routes, open, natural surface roads, all while being surrounded by positive energy.
We were only available to attend one day of the event, and unfortunately got a late start, which had us playing catch up our entire ride. We missed a lot of what makes these rides great, which is the social element.
There was a lot of positive energy at the event, but the food is what I’ll remember the most, as it was amazing and really hit the spot. Your entry includes delicious meals and all you can drink.
Choosing a bike for Gravel Riding: 29er XC MTB vs dedicated Gravel Bike
Inga rode her XC 29er Mountain Bike which we converted into a flat bar gravel bike, whereas I elected to ride a dedicated Gravel Bike with drop bars.
We saw a range of bikes out there, and while some are more efficient than others, everyone seemed to be having a good time.
Having had a taste of this type of event, I’d definitely do it again, especially if I could rally a group to participate with.